Articles Posted in Negligence

When someone brings a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries suffered in an east Texas automobile accident, he or she may ask for reimbursement for past medical expenses, along with compensation for medical costs that may reasonably be expected to be incurred in the future. However, even in cases in which liability is clear, disputes may arise regarding the amount of money to which the plaintiff is entitled for his or her medical expenses, especially if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the accident and is not joined in the lawsuit by his or her parents.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-16-00463-CV), the plaintiff was a young man who sought to recover compensation for injuries he suffered in a car accident that occurred when he was still a minor. The trial court directed a verdict on the plaintiff’s claim for past medical expenses, ruling that the defendant driver could not be held liable for the medical expenses incurred while the plaintiff was still a minor.

In most east Texas car accident cases, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, each of the four distinct elements of negligence:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Occasionally, however, a case arises in which a legal doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur applies.

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase that means “the thing speaks for itself.” In the context of a negligence lawsuit, a res ipsa loquitur instruction allows the jury to infer negligence from the circumstances of the accident, thereby effectively lowering the burden of proof for the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

Under Texas law (Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169, to be exact), there is an “expedited actions process” through which parties to certain civil litigation may ask the court to fast-track their claims. East Texas car accident cases in which $100,000 or less is sought in damages are among the types of cases in which the fast-track route may be sought.

When a case is fast-tracked, the trial court puts limits on things like discovery, continuances, challenges to experts, and the time that the parties have for their presentation of evidence and arguments at trial. On a showing of good cause, a case that would otherwise be qualified for expedited action can be removed from the process by the trial court.

Facts of the Case

Most east Texas motorcycle accidents are caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of an individual – a motorist, a truck driver, a motorcyclist, etc. However, some motor vehicle collisions may be caused by other entities, including the government (or government employees).

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pursue fair compensation when one of the defendants in an personal injury or wrongful death case is the government or a government employee. While it is not necessarily impossible in every case, it certainly does present some additional challenges beyond what would be necessary to prove liability against a more typical defendant.

Facts of the Case

There are many issues of timeliness in an east Texas car accident case. First, there is the statute of limitations, which governs the time the injured party has to file his or her claim in court. The statute of repose may also come into play if there is a product liability claim or medical malpractice claim that is part of the car accident case. The time for filing notice of a claim with the government may also be relevant if one of the defendants is a governmental entity.

Once suit is filed, there are many additional deadlines that must be met, including discovery deadlines and time limits on the filing of certain pre-trial motions. While there is not an absolute deadline that says when a trial must occur, the best course of action is to get to trial as soon as possible once the plaintiff has been released from medical care and discovery has been completed. Otherwise, it is possible that the defendant will file a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution, unnecessarily complicating matters and causing additional delay.

Facts of the Case

Everyone knows that the outcome of a divorce case is often based on the resolution of “he said, she said” factual disputes. East Texas car accident cases are similar in this regard, although it may be “he said, he said” or “she said, she said,” depending on the gender of the respective parties. In cases in which the plaintiff and the defendant blatantly disagree about what caused the accident – or in situations in which one of the parties has given multiple accounts of how the crash happened – the court (or the jury) has the difficult task of deciding who is telling the truth.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and the defendant in a recent case (No.  04-16-00739-CV; Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas) had very different theories as to how a two-vehicle accident involving the plaintiff and the defendant’s employee happened. According to the plaintiff, she was traveling along a four-lane highway when the defendant’s employee, whom the plaintiff alleged was acting within the course and scope of her employment with the defendant, pulled out in front of her, forcing the plaintiff to strike the employee’s vehicle. The defendant, on the other hand, maintained that the accident happened because its employee, who had ended her work duties for the day and was on her way home, was t-boned by the plaintiff, whom it alleged was speeding and distracted by her cellphone.

When alcohol is a factor in an east Texas car accident, the defendant in the case is usually an allegedly intoxicated driver whose negligence or recklessness caused or contributed to the crash. This is not always the case, however.

Under the Texas Dram Shop Act, an establishment that “over-serves” a person who is obviously intoxicated to a point at which he or she presents a danger to themselves or others can also be held liable in a lawsuit brought by a person harmed by the over-served individual. In some cases, the over-served person may also seek compensation under the Act.

Facts of the Case

On average, approximately 3,500 to 4,00o people lose their lives in Texas car accidents each year. Tens of thousands more are seriously injured. The cause of a crash may be obvious (such as a speeding driver running a stop sign), or a lengthy investigation may be required in order to discover the cause of a wreck.

Usually, it is the negligence of one driver or another that causes a motor vehicle collision, but sometimes other factors – such as a defective tire or automotive component – can result in a wreck.

Facts of the Case

When people outside the legal field think about an east Texas car accident case, they may envision a courtroom scene with the parties giving their respective testimonies to a jury while a black-robed judge looks down from the bench, glaring at counsel when an objection is sustained.

The truth is, most cases don’t make it to trial. Both plaintiffs and defendants prefer to settle the issues outside court if at all possible. Trials are time-consuming, expensive, and risky.

Facts of the Case

The right to a trial by jury is fundamental to our legal system. In an east Texas car accident lawsuit, the possibility of a jury determining fault and assessing the amount of damages due to an injured person can be a strong encouragement for negligent drivers and their insurers to settle a case out of court.

Unfortunately, juries sometimes enter verdicts that are not at all what one party or the other expected. Although both the trial court and the appellate courts have some authority to set aside a verdict, juries are afforded a great deal of latitude in most situations.

Facts of the Case